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Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical Paperback – January 8, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631156240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631156246
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Chapter titles suggest Burkert's scope and treatment of the multiple facets of Greek religion, focusing upon the period 800-300 B.C.: Prehistory and the Minoan-Mycenaean Age; Ritual and Sanctuary; The Gods; The Dead, Heroes, and Chthonic Gods; Polis and Polytheism; Mysteries and Asceticism; Philosophical Religion. References to publications since the German edition of 1977 are included. Generally, this is a praiseworthy overview of a difficult subject. However, an unidiomatic English translation makes for added difficulties in coping with Burkert's relentless scholarshipreplete with dogmatic hypotheses and often unconvincing conclusions. Greater judicious clarity would have made this important work less frustrating for the scholar and more accessible to the student of religion. Robert J. Lenardon, Classics Dept., Siena Coll. & SUNY at Albany

Copyright 1985 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A powerful synthesis from the greatest living authority on the subject, but for all its depth and detail, it is never less than lucid and the text is constantly enlivened with vivid asides and illuminating analogies." The Times

"The leading continental scholar ... his Greek Religion... already has the standing of a classic." London Review of Books

"A masterpiece, packed with learning but also rich in ideas and connections of every sort ... nobody else could have produced an account of the subject of comparable range and power. This will be the best history of Greek religion for this generation." New York Review of Books


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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In depth, well-written, excellent index.
Amazon Customer
The text relies heavily upon archaeological and primary sources to reach its intended audience of scholars and historians, and succeeds very well at this endeavor.
Christopher W. Roe
In this book, Walter Burkert seeks to provide a comprehensive study in Greek religion during the Hellenic are.
Christopher R. Travers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Sean Francisco Smith on January 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
While the market for Mythology is flooded by books describing Greek Myth (with many excellent versions), too many have been reduced to neo-pagan re-usage, forcing the myths onto a modern metaphor. All too often, books cut and paste the myths into a new age ideal that melts Taosism, Buddhism, American SHamanism into a nasty blend devoid of any of the specific flavorings of any of these rich traditions.
Burkett's book doesn't d othis. If you want to know how the Ancient Greeks PRACTICED religion, this is a great book, filled with fantastic detail. Burkett is neither a Frazer/Campbell Synthesist, nor a true Levi-Strauss Structuralist. Like the latter group, he delves into the details, discussing how the individual greek cities and cults practiced their religion.
By the time the book is complete, the reader has a crystal clear picture of the everyday spiritual life of an ancient greek citizen, from the archaic to the philosophical (even the the curses and phrases).
More than that, the book gives a clear definition of what a Polytheistic system of beliefs is like.
I definite part of any student of Greek History or General Mythology and Religion.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Charissa Gilreath on April 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Finally, a book that doesn't just go over the main Greek gods and goddesses, list a few of the festivals and some myths, and stop there. This book goes into great depth about what Greek religion was /really/ like, and the motivations, beliefs, and psychology behind it. Relying on archaeological evidence as well as other sources, this book gives an in depth look at ancient Greek religion, even confronting the issue of human sacrifice. Extensive notes in the back further flesh out this fantastic book, providing hundreds of other avenues and sources to explore. The author even provides an index of Greek words if you want to look a term up straight from the original Greek instead of wondering how it's been translated into English so you can look it up in the regular index. The writing might be slightly dense in some areas, but this isn't a problem as the subject is so interesting and so much information is presented. A truly scholarly book.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Roe on August 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Walter Burkert's "Greek Religion" is an intense survey of Hellenistic religious beliefs from their earliest Minoan and Mycennean antecedents. This review will summarize the material contained within the study, extrapolate the central themes of the text, and finally shall offer an analysis of the text with regard to its presentation of data, use of archaeological and primary sources, and its intended audience.
The material is diverse within it's scope. Whereas other survey-type texts only include an overview of the basic Olympian Gods, and perhaps a marginal mentioning of some of the major festivals, Burkert's text provides the reader with an in-depth look at all of those issues as well as giving the reader the, "why", as best as he could surmise through his research. He is blunt about stating the lack of comprehensive written resources, and does not speculate too far beyond the scant information he does possess. To the researcher this is valuable, as massive leaps are not made from what does exist to what may possibly have been the case.
As previously mentioned, the first few chapters of the text offer a brief chronology of what was happening spiritually in the pre-Hellenistic Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. This provides the reader with an appropriate historical context within which to frame the discussion of later spiritual beliefs. The scope of the text covers a vast time period of that prehistory, from approximately 1500-1200 B.C., then continues on to describe the formation of a distinctly Greek religion developing from those antecedents at or about the ninth/eighth century.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joseph O'Neill on April 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Burkert's Greek Religion is the perfect handbook for any serious student of archaic and classical Greek religion. Burkert is a thorough scholar, and treats the diverse and complex problem of Greek religion from its Minoan-Mycenaean precursors through the esoteric Mysteries. Burkert cleanly and succinctly addresses Greek ritual practices and provides accurate and enlightening
definitions of the mainstays of Greek religion - from temple (naos) to cult image (xaonon) to the gods themselves. Burkert's text is an invaluable resource no student of classical studies should be without.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By no longer a customer on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Solid and fascinating scholarship. Burkert offers detailed and informative entries on the development of ritual, taboo and the slow evolution of the deities from numinous abstractions to theistic personifications; for example, the entry on how Hermes developed from a pile of rocks to Messenger of The Gods was fascinating. There also a few mysteries as well, such as the puzzling evidence that some of the cults of Hercules may have involved transvestitism. Perhaps the definitive text for students of religion; scholarly and solid without pandering to the neo-pagan hoopla.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Chardenet on July 2, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Walter Burkert does an excellent, well-researched job of presenting ancient Greek religion as it really was, drawing heavily on archaeological findings, classical texts and literature. He is skeptical and rational and does not veer off into flakey New Age Pagan tangents. There is a plethora of rich information here. A must-have for the serious Greek culture student.
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